DeCluttering My Pantry: My Love Affair with Tupperware


Hello All!

As I mentioned earlier, we're currently in the process of preparing for our first little munchkin.  This, of course, means finding room where there is none.  So currently we're attempting to combine an already-overflowing office and guest room, locate non-existent storage space in the basement and create a nursery out of the world's smallest and weirdest shaped room.  Just a few things on the plate, yeah?

You'd think that, with all of these big undertakings, I would have filled my quota of projects and would, in my spare time, relax.  After all, that's what normal people do.  I, on the other hand, have never been accused of being normal.  Instead, I relax by taking on smaller projects.  I think it has something to do with being able to FINISH something and see more immediate results.  Weird, I know.

So, this week, one of my smaller enterprises was to try to tame the pantry cupboards in the kitchen.

I don't know if you're like this, but there are certain areas of the house that I kind of tend to just let go.  They start out clean(ish) and then slowly deteriorate with use and eventually wind up looking like a very localized earthquake hit.  And once something reaches that state, my brain starts to spin and I go "Okay! Can't handle it!" and frighten my husband with my fevered compulsion to fix it.

This is where I found myself over the weekend, when I went to bake something and couldn't take anything off of the shelf without pulling down five other things.  Not okay.  So, off I went into my Tasmanian Devil-like cleaning mode.

Identifying the Issues
The first step was to figure out what the problems were.  Okay, yes, the cupboards were a mess, but why were they a mess?

In this case the two main problems were a super deep cabinet that made accessing the back difficult and products that didn't lend themselves easily to stacking.  These two issues led to other problems such as not being able to group like things ('cause you wind up stacking what you can - not necessarily what goes together) and not being able to see all available products ('cause everything else just gets shoved in wherever).

The more I looked, the more I realized that I also had a TON of outdated products in the cupboard. I mean WAY outdated.  But, because I couldn't see them or get to them, I and/or my husband had simply assumed we didn't have them and purchased new ones. So I also had duplicates.  Opened.  Go us!

Sorting and Purging

This is the part that causes some people heart attacks but I enjoy immensely.  I pulled absolutely everything out of the cupboard.  A clean slate is ALWAYS easier to work with.  (Speaking of clean, I also took the opportunity to give the area a good wipe down.)  Then I began to sort.

A bit awkward to store...
Anything seriously outdated got pitched.  My giant blue bin of holiday towels was gone through and anything that I rarely used got donated.  Everything else got sorted into piles: Basic Baking Supplies (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.); Baking Mixes (Jiffy mix, cake and muffin mixes, Jello, etc.); Fancy Baking Supplies and additions (Sprinkles, cookie cutters, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut...).

Once I had my piles, I could see what needed to be accessible and visible (mainly the Basic Baking stuff and the Baking Mixes) and what was inconveniently packaged (bags, sacks, small bottles, tiny packages of birthday candles and toothpicks).
Finding a Solution

Enter, my dear friends, Plastic Storage Containers.  Clear, stackable, inexpensive and in a variety of sizes, storage containers were really all I needed to create a useable space.

A quick side note: I know some people think that storage container systems are incredibly expensive, and, frankly, I agree.  If you look for a storage system you're going to pay through the nose.  If, on the other hand, you hit up your local dollar store, you can find fabulous pieces in all shapes and sizes which usually come in a group of 3 or 4.  So instead of paying several dollars per piece, you spend 25 cents.  Woot!  (And, if you're hung up on name brands, I will also add that the majority of the ones that I buy from there are Betty Crocker or Tupperware.  So...)

After taking a quick stock of everything that I wanted to re-pot (so to speak), I went through my own supply of plasticware,  pulled what would work and then made a quick run to the Dollar Tree and purchased all of the supplemental pieces.  

When I got home, I gave everything a quick wash and a thorough dry and got to work with my
containers and my trusty label maker.  Sacks of sugar, boxes of baking supplies, bags of chocolate chips - EVERYTHING got re-located and labeled.  In addition, I also added Sell By dates to the bottoms of the tubs to make sure that everything stays current.

I found a lot of the fancy baking addition sets that I'd purchased or had been given came in pretty but inconvenient packaging.  Ditching the cutesy boxes or cheap plastic, I combined all of the series and gave them their own plastic bin.  Now I only have to locate ONE container when I'm preparing something for a party or event.

Some additional advantages I found to the Tubs-R-Us system: 
1.  Most containers have measurement markings (oz., cups, etc.) on the sides.  This allows me to easily see if I have enough of something for a recipe.
2.  The clear sides of the containers allow me to tell when I need to purchase more of something.  Much easier than pulling out a cardboard box and peering in hopefully.
3.  The seals of the containers are more air tight than the boxes and bags.  Fresher is a good thing.
4.  It is WAAAAAY easier to get to the product inside

Once I had the backing supplies all tubbed up, I went to work stacking everything back in the cupboard.  Anything that I didn't use often (the bin of holiday dish towels, Fancy Baking Supplies) went into the back of the cupboard.  The Basic Baking Supplies went onto the top half shelf - stacked neatly and easy to see.  The mixes went in the front on the bottom - perfectly accessible for last minute dinner additions.

 Voila!!  A million percent improved, don't you think?!

Because I was on such a roll, I went ahead and started re-doing several other cupboards.  I forgot to take before pictures in some cases, but below are some of the results and a few additional ideas on containment.  Enjoy!

Technically coffee should be in something opaque, but we drink it so quickly I don't really worry about it; Tiny bags of specialty coffee get grouped in a large tub making them easier to find; Umm... you ever get sucked into ordering something from TV? Yeah, me too.  The Spicey Shelf truly is kind of awesome, though.  It has made a huge difference in our cupboards. I can actually FIND spices without feeling like Olga the Blundering Giantess.  I can't lie - kinda love it.

Rice is SO much easier to deal with in a container; A nail on the door of the cupboard holds a bag of onions; Everything gets grouped by category - soups, pasta, quick meals, oils, etc.

Mostly pretty easy-peasy stuff.  But definitely one of those afternoons that made me feel accomplished.  And stuff that's neat just LOOKS prettier.  Now if we can only keep it that way...

Do you have cupboard issues? Send me your pics or some fab solutions you've found!!

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